Asthmatic Kids Behind in Reading, Study Shows

John Bottrell Health Pro
  • If you have a child with asthma, Reuters reported on an study you might be interested in. It basically shows that asthmatic children may tend to be behind in reading as compared to children without asthma.

    Actually, if you had asthma as a kid, now you have a better excuse for your poor grades -- at least in reading.  Okay, well maybe not. 

    The most intriguing part of the study (which was conducted in New Zealand and first reported in Chest) is the reason does not appear to be due to school days missed. 


    Other studies also linked asthma with low income families and a "low readiness" for reading.  Yet this didn't appear to be the reason for the low reading score's either, according to the study analyzers.

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    In fact, the true reason apears to be unknown.

    Except some experts believe that in the 1st grade, or when kids start reading, they read out loud. Some theorize that kids with asthma have trouble learning how to control their breathing while reading out loud. Since young kids do little silent reading, this could be significant.

    Math skills were not effected by asthma, and math does not need to be oral. So this might play into the theory that asthmatic kids have a problem learning to breathe while reading.

    As I look back on my childhood with hardluck asthma I do remember difficulty reading, and the need for additional help with my reading skills. And I'm still a slower reader than most people (like my son, who gloats about it).

    Yet I have no "concrete" evidence my asthma had anything to do with this. Nor do I have any reason to suspect it did -- study or no study. Nor did I use this excuse when the opportunity presented itself recently when I showed my 12-year-old son my report cards.

    My grades: mostly C's. His grades: mostly A's. Yes he gloated. I let him.


    Sure this is just one study, yet it's interesting regardless.  


    According to the study, "Just over 18 percent of the children had asthma when they started school. At the end of the year, 51 percent of those children were at least six months behind in reading words, and 55 percent lagged in reading sentences. That compared with 33 percent and 38 percent of children without asthma."

    This is important because it reminds us that parents and teachers need to be aware that this could be an issue. Parents must work diligently with their child's pediatrician to get their child's asthma controlled.

    Parents should also "support" their child's reading skills. While this is something parents should do with all kids, asthmatic kids may need a little extra support.

    Likewise, parents must work diligently with their child's pediatrician to create an asthma action plan and an asthma action plan for school. That way everyone taking care of the child will be aware of the signs of asthma and what to do.

    Another key is good communication between parent and teacher. If asthma continues to be a problem for a child, teachers may want to spend a little extra time with these kids so they don't fall behind at school.


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    There's an old saying that we do the best we can with the wisdom we have, and as we learn better we do better.  While this is only one study, it's wisdom like this that will allow us to provide better for asthmatic kids of today and tomorrow. 

Published On: January 31, 2011